Naaz has done nothing for us: Chimukoko

HARARE - His career has taken him around the globe in a journey that has seen him competing with some of long distance running iconic names.

But Abel Chimukoko still feels he may never be accorded his rightful place in the hall of fame of Zimbabwean athletics due to the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe’s (Naaz) paucity and internal politics.

At the peak of his long distance running career, Chimukoko lived in Spain for 10 years and competed in various international marathons with such luminaries as Kenya’s Paul Tergat and Thomas Nyariki and the legendary Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.

Chimuko has no kind words for Naaz, an association he feels is sitting on its laurels and doing nothing to represent the interest and needs of the athletes it is supposed to serve.

“It’s unfortunate that the association officials don’t serve the needs of the athletes. I have told them this before and I am not afraid to say it again,” the 2004 Athens Olympian tells the Daily News.

“The association needs people who understand its athletes. To me it seems they don’t have a database of which athlete is which. I have never seen a follow up being done.

“Zimbabwean athletes are doing it alone. You look at Cuthbert Nyasango, that’s individual effort. What is being done to ensure life after athletics? Nothing!

“We often hear of athletes struggling by themselves to travel outside the country to compete because there are no high standard events being run in the country.

“Why are we not having people like (retired Zimbabwean long distance runner) Tendai Chumusasa part of the association?

“Chimukoko has been through the ropes in athletics and his career has seen him interact and mingle with the top names in the sport.

“He has seen how other athletics associations from foreign countries conduct their business and help finance the training programmes for their athletes.

“This is not the case in Zimbabwe where athletes have to look for their own alternative sponsorship to participate in regional and international event without receiving any support from Naaz.

“I have been everywhere in this world. Its better you ask me where I have not been not where I have been. Because we would take forever discussing the places I have been too,” says Chimukoko.

Born on September 29, 1972, in Mutoko, Chimukoko took to running like a fish takes to water.

“I started running in school. It was compulsory. From there I was winning races. Unfortunately I never really got any encouragement,” he recalls.

“You know how it is learning at a rural school. The events are few and far between and athletics itself is seasonal.”

Chimukoko believes he found his footing after moving to Ellis Robbins Boys School in Harare in 1991 before joining the Zimbabwe Republic Police in 1994.

“I started travelling around the world, taking part in international events, starting with the trip to Sydney in 1995,” he says.

“From there I went the World Championships in Italy; from there I was in Spain, Germany. In 1997 I was at the World Cross Country meet in Italy.

“I soon got a scholarship to go and train in Spain. I spent the next 10 years living in Spain. From my base in Spain I was going to compete in the USA, Portugal and many other places in Europe.

“I remember setting a couple of records in Spain. To tell you the truth, I’m more popular in Spain than I am here.  If I am to go back to Spain right now I can’t even walk without being recognised.”Asked his athletics career earned him any fortune, Chimukoko says:

“I can’t complain, because at times you would win and sometimes you won’t. At times it paid, but you know how it is staying outside the country. You have so many bills to pay, you have a lot of expenses, it’s never easy.”

Chimukoko’s career went off the rails in 2007 after he was involved in a traffic accident.

“I was lucky after the accident. I was able to recover and went straight into training again. Others who were in that accident were not so lucky,” he says.

“No-one was able to run again after that accident except for me so I have to thank God for that.”

Although still into the sport, Chimukoko, who is now a Chief Inspector with the ZRP, is now more concerned in the development of the sport that helped him rise to fame.

The 41-year-old is also the Officer in Charge of Sports at ZRP and the Zimbabwe representative of the World Olympians Association.

“I am currently coordinating over 17 sports at ZRP, we are doing very well,” he says.

“In my role in the World Olympians Association we are trying to prepare all Zimbabwean Olympians for a life after sport.

“By next year at least 10 percent of Olympians should have done courses to develop themselves.”

Career feats

3000m, 8:08.15, Getafe (ESP), 10.07.2001

5000m, 13:52.78, Maia (POR), 14.07.2001

10,000m, 29:10.53, Kuala Lumpur (MAS), 16.09.1998

10 km Road, 28:05, Madrid (ESP), 03.03.2002

10 Miles Road, 50:28, Guadiana (POR), 20.10.2002

20 km Road, 1:01:48, East London (RSA,) 02.07.2006

Half Marathon, 1:02:07, Košice (SVK), 04.10.1997

Marathon, 2:15:29, Hamburg (GER), 27.04.2003

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.